The principal sighed as the student in front of him finished his explanation. Jaejoong wiped the dried blood off the corner of his mouth and rubbed his hand on the hem of his white school uniform, adding more dirt on what used to be a blinding white fabric. His hair was a mess, a good similarity to a bird’s nest with the strands sticking out in different directions, a clear sign that the student’s hair was pulled quite roughly.
Jaejoong stopped turning around in his chair just when the principal put his glasses down and began pinching the bridge of his nose in stress.
“It’s not like this is your first time coming here looking like that, son. You’ve attended counseling suggested by your guidance counselor but here you are, still. What more should we do for you to change for the better?”
“I told you it’s not my fault. That douchebag – “
“Watch your words, Jaejoong.”
“ – ugh, fine. That guy started it. What’s wrong with being gay? Everyone in school knows I’m gay. What’s wrong with it? Look. As far as I know I’m not harming anyone with my preference, Alex is just an assho – “
He stopped and exhaled loudly to calm himself. The principal handed him a piece of paper he knew all too well before he was dismissed.
The school clinic smelled like Iodoform, much like a hospital. Jaejoong sat on the bed before handing the paper to Risa, the school nurse.
“Should I ask you what you did this time?” She opened a cabinet, took out a kit and Jaejoong bit back groans each time the end of the cotton bud touched the cut on his lip. His eyes roamed around the room, eyeing the row of liquid in a cabinet – most of them are green in color, while the rest are transparent white. Risa concentrated on treating his wounds with Jaejoong’s mind blank as a sheet of paper.
She then gave him several sticking plasters and signed the paper, putting it in a box as a record.
“Make sure to ice your jaw, it’s going to bruise.”
Jaejoong hopped off the bed before giving a wave. He still had two classes remaining for the day and the ache in his jaw seemed to worsen at the thought of solving numbers with Mrs. Lee while he looked pathetically beaten up. Alex must be proud of himself.
He picked up his bag where he left it and walked out of the gates, glaring at the gargantuan cross hanging tight on it.
It was not a surprise that the news spread fast and reached home even before he could say hi to his parents. Jaejoong received yet another hit on the side of his head from the wrath of his mother’s hand and luckily, it was the side that got punched less.
“You’re a disgrace! Engaging yourself in a brawl with a board member’s son wasn’t enough – you even told them that y-you, you…!”
Jaejoong sat on the couch and didn’t dare look at his mother. Everyone knew; Jaejoong never cared to hide it and he thought his parents would be the first ones to understand. He was wrong, obviously. He really hated how religious his entire family was – including his relatives. They didn’t talk, but they looked and they judged.
“Mom, he was insulting me...”
“Of course he would! No one wants to be near an atrocity like you. You’re attending a catholic school, Jaejoong, and you can’t get it through your thick skull that what you are is a sin!”
His heart was so used to the words of hatred and humiliation coming from his parents that Jaejoong didn’t feel pain anymore. His father, on the day Jaejoong came out to them, was mum. Like his relatives, the head of the family didn’t utter a single word but Jaejoong knew and felt the crack in their relationship.
Sometimes, he would think of praying and asking for God’s forgiveness but every time, a thought in his head would knock and say the different color of his heart was never a sin – because as what the bible said, God never discriminated. He loved all of his children. Why would Jaejoong listen to his mother who was a mere mortal, when the most holy loved him just the same?
He remained silent while his mother ranted and preached about the condemnation of homosexuals. Jaejoong honestly didn’t care where he went in the afterlife.
“Later, your father and I will decide on what to do with you. This is too much. We can’t bear another embarrassment in this house.”
“Jaejoong, come downstairs. Your father has something to tell you.”
The door closed gently. To say he wasn’t feeling a bit of dread was a lie. His father, even before, never did anything brutal but tonight, Jaejoong knew he would be in trouble. He wasn’t certain, but he could feel it.
Swallowing what fear he was feeling, Jaejoong found his parents sitting in the dining room and joined them at the table. His father put the folder down, possibly another report he brought home from work and his mother’s subtle smirk didn’t go unnoticed.
“I assume you know why I called for you.”
The tone of his voice wasn’t intimidating but Jaejoong could feel hairs rising on the back of his neck.
“Your mother and I discussed this thoroughly and we considered a lot of things; I believe this is the best solution to our problem.”
“So I’m a problem now?”
His mother stood up and fetched herself a cup of coffee, the sound of spoon hitting the inside of the cup lingered in the air as she stirred the bitter drink.
“We’re signing you up in the local parish as a server while you’re on vacation. School ends in less than a month, so you have enough time to do suitable activities with your friends. You will not see any of them while you’re a member of the church.”
“What – no! Dad, please! This is absurd!”
“Nothing is absurd in this family but you! I did not raise a child to be a shame in the society, Jaejoong. So if you love me and your mother, and care for the name of our family, you will do as I say. For years I have endured this, but this time I will not let it pass. Go back to your room – and your bible is not a decoration on your desk. Read it. Remind yourself the presence of the Lord.”
He didn’t speak any more and locked himself in his room. The tears wouldn’t stop running down his face as he cupped his mouth, refusing to let them hear his pain. He knew he would get reprimanded and punished, but Jaejoong didn’t expect his father to do such a thing.
The bible sits idly on the desk before he reached for it, lips and hands trembling. It’d been a long time since he read a verse.
‘But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.’
He read it a few more times as to convince himself that he was loved, and if being himself was truly a sin, then he should not worry because he had a God merciful enough to forgive him.
The golden brown interior of the church, with its strong pillars and gleaming details made up the notable sacred ambiance. Jaejoong eyed the lights hanging from the high ceiling while waiting for the minister they talked to earlier. The walls were bricked and there were paintings attached to them that told the story of Christ, from finding the apostles up to his resurrection, three days after the crucifixion.
“Follow me to the office, please. The priest is waiting.”
Jaejoong lagged behind his parents with a sigh. He had a millisecond thought of running away, perhaps he could change his father’s mind later but he was afraid that it might lead to a worse situation.
The priest sat behind a wooden desk when they entered. He had a smile on his face and the old age showed on the crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes, and the balding head.
“I’m glad your son is interested in joining the parish. To be honest, we are in need of new servers since the others who are old enough left. God always welcomes those who wish to be closer to Him. What’s your name, son?”
“A nice name. How old are you?”
“Ah, and you’re about to enter a university soon? It’s a good thing you still find time to invest in your faith. Better late than never, I must say.”
He was so uncomfortable despite the warm presence of the priest. The grip on his hand tightened and Jaejoong glanced at his mother, before the priest spoke again.
“I need you to register first, Jaejoong. The other servers will have their practice tomorrow in the afternoon and you can join them. I have an important meeting to attend to so I will leave you with the minister. It was nice meeting you too, Mr. and Mrs. Kim. Hopefully, I get to lead a mass with your son in the future.”
The old man left and Jaejoong gripped the paper, reading some of the names listed there. Apparently, these are the people he would be practicing with tomorrow.
His father whispered, reminding him of the consequences if he opposed.
Jaejoong hesitantly wrote down his name, gave the paper back to the minister who had an inscrutable look in his eyes, and he almost asked for help but he knew it would be hopeless.
The practice wasn’t that bad, if he would be honest. He never missed a Sunday mass so he was familiar with the basic things the altar servers do. Plus, the others were nice to him and corrected him every time he committed a mistake.
Chanyeol, one of the servers beamed like a light bulb upon receiving the news that Jaejoong would be joining them from now on. His curly hair and wide smile gave him a goofy vibe and his boisterous laugh eased the tension on Jaejoong’s shoulders.
“Man, you look like you don’t belong here. Eh, you look like you’re one of those spoiled boys who are always on their phone during the mass.”
The alb reached a few inches before his ankles. Jaejoong tied the green cincture around his waist and sat down, inspecting the crack on the pew.
“And you look like you’re out of this world because of your height. How’s the air up there, giraffe?” Jongdae, another server spoke and Chanyeol was quick to get up and tackle the other down in a playful fight. The other boy in their group whose name is Changmin sat next to Jaejoong with an excited grin and uneven, sparkly eyes.
“Are you excited? Don’t worry; you can bring the script with you so you can practice alone. Your first service with us will be this coming Sunday.”
The two were still on the ground, bickering. Jaejoong sighed and played with the cincture.
“It’s fine, I guess. I hope I don’t mess up.”
“You won’t! If it makes you feel better, Chanyeol tripped on his shoelace during the entrance and pulled Jongdae’s alb down with him. Jongdae fell down and the incense rolled away. It was humiliating! Everyone was looking and the choir stopped singing. They thought he suffered a heart attack.”
The image was too funny that it made Jaejoong snort, while Chanyeol stopped wrestling with Jongdae to go after Changmin instead.
To say that he was nervous was an understatement. He slept through his alarm and was running late to the mass. They were supposed to be ready fifteen minutes before it started but there was only five minutes left and he just arrived. All the things he had practiced also seemed to evaporate from his mind.
Once he put on his alb and tied the cincture, he quickly ran to the entrance and stood next to Chanyeol who was holding a tall candle stand.
“He’s the one assigned to ring the bell. He’ll be at the sanctuary.”
The church was packed. From his spot, he couldn’t see where his parents were seated but they usually sat in the middle – his mother hated how loud the bells sounded when they once sat at the very front.
“Father Jorge left, did you know?”
“What? So who’s – “
Jaejoong was about to turn around but Chanyeol held him tight, whispering.
“He just arrived yesterday. Father Jorge was sent to another church. This one’s newly ordained.”
Chanyeol gave him a squeeze on the arm before the choir started singing the entrance chant. They took slow steps forward, and Jaejoong caught sight of his parents on the right, looking proud of him. He tried to calm the rapid beating of his heart as he remembered what Changmin told him. He briefly glanced down to check if his shoelaces were tied properly before looking straight ahead.
Upon reaching the altar, he carefully put the candle down before following the others to their seat.
That was when he finally saw the new priest for the first time. This one was a lot younger than Father Jorge, probably just a few years older than himself.
“Are men that young allowed to be a priest?”
Chanyeol gave him a shrug. “As long as you finished your studies and qualified for the requirements.”
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Jaejoong stared at the priest and watched him mouth each word he read from the Order. He observed how gentle the gestures were, and how the voice sounded rich and deep. It kept him awake.
His eyes lingered on the parishioners and noticed how everyone, especially the teenage girls were particularly attentive. It must be the curiosity about the new priest or mere fascination – Jaejoong wouldn’t deny it, the priest was good looking.
Then it was time for the communion. The church was significantly big and so all the servers assisted the ministers in giving out the bread.
“Where am I going…?”
“Assist the priest!”
Changmin whispered in a hushed tone before heading off. Jaejoong was left without a choice but to go and soon he found himself standing next to the priest, holding a small, silver plate just in case the bread fell.
“Body of Christ…”
It was all Jaejoong could hear. The priest repeated it for the umpteenth time and Jaejoong watched a girl smile shyly before slightly sticking out her tongue to receive the thin wafer. Of course, she would choose to take it with her mouth instead of the wafer put in her hand.
The last one in line received the bread and Jaejoong faced the priest to take his.
Their eyes met. Jaejoong swore he could drown in those beautiful, brown almond eyes. The pair of lips moved and he just stared, vaguely aware of the priest’s judging look before he noticed that they were oddly standing for far too long in front and Jaejoong, being the panicked type, wanted to finish it once and for all so he leaned in to take the wafer with his teeth – and accidentally bit down on the priest’s finger.
Jaejoong jerked and let go, the thin wafer falling on the floor as the priest clenched his fist for a moment before checking his finger. He couldn’t see his own face but he was certain of the horror etched on it. The people on the first row were watching with an equally horrified expression and Jaejoong really, really wanted to run away now.
“An eager one, aren’t you?”
He watched as the priest chuckled and handed him another wafer, this time straight on the palm of his hand.
“What do you say?”
If he could hit the other with his shoe, Chanyeol would already be sporting bumps on his head now. The other hadn’t stopped laughing since the end of the mass, when Jaejoong ran up to him and told him what had happened. The taller boy was quick to spread it around (read: to Jongdae and Changmin) and Jaejoong suffered from extreme embarrassment as the two other servers joined in making him their laughing stock.
“It’s because you’re much closer to Chanyeol so you’re subjected to making a fool of yourself once in a while. More will come, Jaejoong.”
Jongdae guffawed obnoxiously. Changmin giggled on the side while folding his alb.
“So how does Father Yunho’s finger taste like? Is it more holy than the bread?”
Jaejoong gasped sharply, finally losing it and threw a shoe at Chanyeol. “That’s scandalous!”
The three boys let out another bark of laughter. Jaejoong sighed, finally deciding to take off his alb.
‘So his name is Yunho…’
“How’s your first service, Jaejoong? You did quite a good job.”
There wasn’t even a hi or hello. Jaejoong fought the urge to roll his eyes as he made his way to the kitchen to greet his mother.
“It’s okay. I’ll get used to it.”
She wiped her hands clean on a towel before cupping his cheeks and giving him a kiss on the forehead.
“That’s good to hear, since you’ll be doing that for a while.”
He then made his way to his room and threw himself on the bed, not before making sure to close the door. Exhaustion started seeping in his bones and despite not doing much for the day, he felt tired from being anxious since the moment he woke up.
“You’re staring at me all the time, Jaejoong. Did you think I never noticed?”
The priest forced him to bend over the altar. Jaejoong, horrified but undeniably turned on, whimpered and gripped the edge of the table as leverage. He could feel the warmth of the other’s hand creeping up the inside of his thigh. Huh, he’s not wearing anything under the alb…
“F-father, please, not here…”
“You can’t be choosy now. We’re alone; no one’s going to bother us.”
The hand enclosed around his hardening cock and Jaejoong shuddered, trying to close his legs to keep the other from moving his hand.
“You wanted this, right, Jaejoong?”
Soft lips pressed against his ear and he let out a soft sigh before bucking his hips.
“Just keep quiet. You know I hate loud boys.”
Jaejoong whimpered yet again just as the hand started stroking him in a painfully slow pace. He turned his head to give the other a pleading look, hoping that whatever he was silently begging for would be given to him.
“What is it? Tell me…”
The grip tightened around his cock and Jaejoong winced. He could feel his legs wobble.
Jaejoong fell over yet again as the hand picked up its pace. He continued to moan softly until another hand covered his mouth, blocking the noises slipping past his lips.
He was getting closer to the edge and when the first spurt shot out of his cock, Jaejoong accidentally bit down the hand and Yunho cried out in pain, yanking it away from his mouth.
“God, not again! Why do you keep biting me?”
“N-no, I’m sorry!”
Yunho threw him a look and hastily walked out while Jaejoong was still boneless against the table.
“Yunho, please, wait!”
“Jaejoong! Who’s Yunho? You keep saying that in your sleep.”
Jaejoong panted while staring up at his mother’s concerned face. He quickly looked down and patted his torso to check whether it really happened – or not, since it was obviously a dream, a vivid dream. He sat up with a groan and rubbed his face, noticing a tray of food on the nightstand.
“How did you get in?”
“Silly, your door is unlocked. I’ve been calling you for dinner but you weren’t responding so I just brought the food here - figured you were sleeping.”
“Bring it downstairs after.”
The door closed as his mother exited the room, leaving Jaejoong with his face buried on a pillow to muffle a scream. How could he even dream of someone he just met - worse, their parish priest?
Oh Christ. He surely bought himself a one-way ticket to hell.
“You’re the oldest among us, Jaejoong. Why did you join late?”
Changmin picked up a stone and tossed it at Chanyeol. It landed on the goofy boy’s head and he whipped around so quick, glaring at the former.
They decided to meet up after agreeing with each other that they had nothing better to do and spending one more second at home would drive Jaejoong crazy.
“I didn’t want to join. My parents forced me.”
Changmin stared at him as if waiting for the latter to take it back and say it was a joke, but Jaejoong was telling the truth and he couldn’t blame the other’s reaction. The younger boy nodded and picked up another stone.
“They thought you’d turn straight if you get closer to God?”
Changmin chuckled and threw the stone at Chanyeol again.
“My sister likes girls. She was forced to pray the rosary every day. She did for months, I think. Then she stopped.”
“Well, she really likes girls. So she ran away and never came back. She left us a letter, though.”
Jaejoong looked down and stared mindlessly on the ground before he felt a pat on his shoulder. He wished he was as brave as that girl for doing what she wanted to do.
“Don’t run away. Fight for yourself, Jaejoong.”
Calm and peace were what he saw in Changmin's eyes. To be able to meet someone who would accept you for who you were in this kind of world was a wish upon a star, but maybe getting into this situation was a blessing in disguise – because if Jaejoong didn’t allow himself to try, would he still taste kindness and compassion from anyone other than the three boys he just met?
“I wish it was that easy to go against the people who put food in my mouth, gave me clothes to wear and built a roof atop my head. I feel like I owe them everything of me.”
The wind blew and Jaejoong’s fists clenched before settling them on his lap as Chanyeol and Jongdae remained in their own world in the background. Balling up his hands was a coping mechanism he had picked up since he was a kid, when his emotions tried to get the worst out of him and voicing his thoughts wasn’t an option.
“God gave you your life, and they were just a vessel. You must give back after the things they did for you, but don’t forget that in every action you make, you either disappoint yourself or another. The world has changed over time, and what was normal yesterday isn’t the same now. Don’t worry your pretty little head, Jaejoong. You’re stronger than you think. We all are.”
Apparently, the new priest, Father Yunho, or just Yunho when he insisted the boys to call him that outside the church was as young as they thought, only 25 years old. He had been officiating for almost a month now, and the parishioners grew to like him faster than they did with the previous priest. The town welcomed him wholeheartedly, inviting the priest in some occasion – whether it’d be a birthday party or a simple event. The people did not forget to incorporate religion with everything and things should be blessed beforehand by the newly ordained priest.
Sometimes, when the boys had their practice, Yunho would join them just to observe. Expectedly, Chanyeol was the first one to break the ice between them and that was when Yunho told them not to be formal with him anymore and they could be friends outside of service.
Jaejoong wasn’t sure if hanging out with Yunho was a good thing, since he never really forgot about his dream(s). It also didn’t help that he felt something stirring inside of him whenever the priest was in his line of sight. He didn’t want to acknowledge the gnawing feelings – it was just a trap, a temptation.
He flipped on the next page of Leviticus when he felt an unwanted presence sit next to him.
“You’re the quiet one in the group, I assume.”
Yunho kept a safe distance between them and for that, Jaejoong was glad. He would glitch like a damn computer if they touched.
“Um, I guess you can say that.”
“But you’re the wild one too, considering you’d bite someone in a blink of an eye.”
Jaejoong literally choked on air. The priest’s eyes widened in alarm and asked for a bottle of water from the other boys, and Jongdae hurriedly handed him his own.
He chugged it down until it was empty and Jaejoong patted his chest, frowning. “That was uncalled for.”
“I thought it was funny. I’m sorry.”
Jaejoong handed the bottle to Jongdae, thanking his friend before facing Yunho. He was also hyper aware of the three boys’ eyes on them.
“Forgiven – and I’m sorry too for biting your finger. I panicked.”
“Forgiven. Though, why would you panic?”
“It was my first time as a server.”
Jaejoong put the bible back in his bag and bid them goodbye, with an excuse that his parents would be looking for him by now. It was a blatant lie, though. His parents wouldn’t demand him to come home so early as long as they knew he was with the other altar servers.
“Wait, Jaejoong. I have something to tell you. Follow me to the office.”
Yunho didn’t even wait for a response before he was out of sight. Jaejoong excused himself from the three before he followed the other.
The images in his dream automatically replayed and Jaejoong found himself worrying again over the possibility of Yunho doing something to him – but mostly, of himself initiating it. The feelings were never welcomed but they were so strong that Jaejoong, unwillingly, daydreamed about the two of them…doing God knows what.
Jaejoong stood awkwardly by the desk while Yunho rummaged through the drawer.
“What is it about, Father?”
“Don’t call me that when we’re not meeting about church activities. Anyway, I have something to give you. Here.”
“You’re still a priest even outside the church.”
If Yunho heard him or not (he purposely mumbled what he just said), he wouldn’t know. He eyed the letter in his hands and read it while a frown appeared on his face.
“A retreat…and you want me to go with you.”
“Yes. Give that to your parents so they could sign.”
“I don’t want to be rude, but you sound like you know they would allow me. Anyway, I’m a server, I know – but I’m also currently a university student. It’s just been a week since the classes started and I don’t want to miss a lesson.”
“I understand, though like what you said, the classes just started so missing a few of them won’t hurt. You will be excused anyway; I will give you a letter. Also, you’re the newest member in the church. You need to attend.”
“I came here earlier than you…”
He knew he wasn’t making any sense. Jaejoong diverted his gaze somewhere else when Yunho leaned against the desk and crossed his arms over his chest. The fitted dress shirt did less in hiding the taut muscles underneath the fabric.
“Jaejoong, you will benefit from this. I promise. If you’re worried about your safety, don’t be – you’re with me.”
As if that was supposed to make me feel better when I think you’re the one in danger with me.
He folded the letter and put it in his bag, assuring the priest that the letter would be given to his parents as he made his way to the door.
He was sure his parents didn’t even finish reading the letter before signing. The parish also made it their job to send a letter to his university which was quickly approved. Jaejoong couldn’t be surprised – the whole university was predominantly Christian.
The whole trip was awkward since he was the only one in the group younger than 20 and surrounded by old men – the ministers and other church members sat in the van. Yunho called shotgun, sending Jaejoong a teasing grin knowing the server wanted to be away from the elders as much as he could.
They reached their destination a little more than an hour later and it was a retreat house set in a several-acres space of gentle meadows. A clean stream added to the peaceful ambiance of the place and maybe, this wasn’t such a bad idea. Jaejoong needed a break from his own home, too.
When they parted ways to put their things to get ready in their rooms, Jaejoong was clueless.
“Father, where do I stay?”
Why the priest followed him to his floor, Jaejoong didn’t really want to ask why. But when Yunho entered his room, Jaejoong almost closed the door at the other’s face in horror.
“This is my room, though?”
“Yeah, but the parish can’t afford separate rooms so we’re sharing. This is my room, too. See the bunk bed?”
He couldn’t be mistaken – that was a smirk, right? Yunho smirked at him? For what reason? Does he know about Jaejoong’s internal battle with himself?
“Top or bottom?”
“I usually bottom, but I really don’t mind when I have to be on top.”
It was like a static cut through the air and Jaejoong expected himself to choke, but he bravely stared at Yunho who was staring back at him with an unreadable gaze before the older snorted and placed his bag on the top bunk.
“I just wanted to ask your preference in bunk beds, Jaejoong. I’m glad I was enlightened.”
Yunho disappeared into the bathroom and Jaejoong fell face first on his bed, groaning against the sheets.
“I want to dieeeeeeeee.”
The retreat was like any other retreats given to students, just that it would be more focused on ‘strengthening the bond with God’ as per Father Rick, another parish’s priest and no fun group games would happen. Jaejoong dreaded the hours of bible reading and songs of praise. If there would be activities, it would still be connected to whatever was on their program.
“We’re not teens anymore to play games, Jaejoong.”
“Yeah, but you wanted me here. So I thought I should have fun.”
Yunho rubbed his fist on Jaejoong’s head, making the younger whine in distaste.
“Behave. You’re here to become a better follower of the Lord.”
“Not when you’re around.”
The program began with a gathering at the session hall and each participant was made to give a short introduction in front. Yunho was a natural, he was used to speaking in front of a large group of people but Jaejoong stuttered every two seconds. His cheeks were a bright red after his speech and the elders assured him that he did well, and it was cute. Yunho looked proud of him, so Jaejoong thought the embarrassment was worth it.
There was a morning mass, followed by a short free time before everyone gathered again for lunch. The food was heavenly and Jaejoong whined next to Yunho when his stomach hurt but he couldn’t go since they would have an activity.
“Get your materials, Jaejoong. We just started, you can’t leave.”
“But I really want to poop now…”
“Poop – who says poop in this day and age?”
The young priest rolled his eyes and pulled Jaejoong to sit on the floor. “Hold it in until you’re finished with the task, then you’re free to go.”
Jaejoong grudgingly did the activity with his lips formed into a deep pout that Yunho didn’t fail to point out and say it was cute, because Jaejoong looked like a duck. That only made the latter’s mood plummet even lower.
A few participants volunteered to share their work to everyone later on and in the middle of it, Jaejoong dropped his poster, saying he couldn’t hold it in anymore and rushed out, luckily not getting anyone’s attention aside from Yunho who quickly followed him.
“Do you need tissues?”
“I can wash my butt, thank you!”
“Ah, I thought you couldn’t. Aren’t you just three years old?”
“Frick off, Yunho!”
“Jaejoong, watch your words.”
Yunho could only laugh as he stood next to the bathroom door, waiting for the other. He heard the sound of the toilet flushing before a slightly sweaty Jaejoong came out, glaring.
“Hey, air it out.”
“My poop doesn’t stink.”
Yunho poked his head inside. “What – who doesn’t have a stinky stool?”
“Why, yours does?”
Jaejoong grinned before cupping Yunho’s cheeks, laughing while the older man shrieked in disgust.
The program for the day lasted until 8 in the evening. Jaejoong hogged the bathroom as soon as they were sent back while Yunho stayed with the others for a quick meeting. His temporary roommate came back just when he finished putting on his shirt.
“Yeah. You can use the bathroom now.”
It was a good thing he brought some of his readings so he could accomplish some work while on the retreat. Chanyeol and the others spammed him with messages but the signal was poor, so it wasn’t easy to reply to everyone.
He was in the middle of highlighting a line in a paragraph talking about divine comedy when the door to the bathroom opened and came out a half-naked Yunho with a towel wrapped dangerously low around his waist. Jaejoong’s eyes lingered on the prominent abs and followed the trace a water droplet made that disappeared when it hit the towel. He stared longer on the fine trail of hair below the belly button and Jaejoong wondered if Yunho would be careless enough to change in front of him.
“What are you reading?”
A hum was the only response Jaejoong offered while his eyes continued to watch the other. He almost cursed out loud when Yunho put on his shorts without removing the towel. What a killjoy.
The bed creaked as Yunho settled himself on the top bunk. Jaejoong sighed.
“Are you sleepy yet?”
“Not yet, but I’m tired.”
“If you won’t sleep yet, we can talk.”
“About anything we can think of.”
Jaejoong put the readings away and rolled on his side. “Why did you become a priest?”
There was a brief silence and the only thing he could hear was the towel rubbing against Yunho’s hair as the other dried it.
“It’s my calling. When you finally realize yours, you will do anything to achieve it. You’re probably thinking I’m too young, but this is normal. It’s nothing new if someone younger than me gets ordained. It’s really based on how early you joined the seminary and how quick you get your degree.”
“Sometimes, you don’t act like a priest.”
“I don’t want to keep that air around me. I can be just like you and your friends, I can still enjoy the things you enjoy, but with a limit, of course. I also don’t want people to treat me as someone really old like Father Jorge.”
“Hey, he was nice!”
“I didn’t say he wasn’t.”
Jaejoong smiled as he listened to Yunho laugh. It honestly sounded nice, just like the first time he heard the priest’s voice.
“What about you, why did you become an altar server?”
If he told him, would he get the same reaction he got from Changmin – without a hint of clouded judgment and just mere acceptance?
“I didn’t want to be an altar server – it was my parents’ decision, to punish me for something I have no control of.”
“They seemed nice whenever they approached for a blessing.”
“They are nice, except if we’re talking about my preference.”
“Care to elaborate?”
The bed creaked once again and Jaejoong guessed it must be Yunho lying down.
“There are just some things I can’t control – they’re a part of me, whether people like it or not, and these things made me into the person I am today. I thought, as long as I don’t hurt other people, or do anything against the Ten Commandments, it would be fine. But life is unfair, and I’m sacrificing my own happiness and my honesty to myself to avoid further stepping on my family’s pride.”
“For you, it’s not wrong – but for everyone around you, it is. Subjective things are hard to judge. Do you think God would condemn you for those things you talk about? I must say, He will not like you forcing yourself to serve him with half a heart. Serving Him should be your priority if you are walking this path. God is merciful; He loves all of his children. Maybe you think right and your family thinks wrong. Besides, you said whatever those things are, they are responsible in shaping you into who you are today. I don’t see anything wrong with you, Jaejoong. I suggest that you follow your heart, whatever it tells you to do, as long as you’re happy and no one is harmed.”
It was too late to stop himself from crying and his sobs didn’t fail to reach the priest’s ears. A hand dangled on the edge of the top bunk and Jaejoong reached for it, tangling his fingers with Yunho’s. He was thankful the other didn’t check for his face was a mess, and holding his hand was just perfect. Yunho didn’t say anything more and chose to share his support in silence.
“When I get the courage, I will tell you all of it. Someday.”
His back and bottom ached for sitting far too long, and he blamed his bad posture while internally screaming for the prayer leader to just stop calling out every saint and singing every song on the book they were holding. This was not how a retreat should be, and he knew they were just wasting their time and money staying in a place when they could’ve just remained back in their church to do the same things they did for the past four days.
The clock on the wall showed fifteen minutes past 2 in the afternoon and the next break would be three hours later. Jaejoong would be losing his sanity if he wouldn’t take matters in his hands.
“This is boring.”
Yunho, who was sitting in front together with the other priests, looked at him as if Jaejoong grew another head. Jaejoong could read what the priest mouthed to him but fuck it, he’d teach them how to have fun his own way.
“The Lord must be sick of us singing Him the same old songs – I remember Father Jorge telling us during one homily that we shouldn’t be so repetitive, because even before we think of what we want to say, God already knows what it is. I’m sure He would tell us to take a break from this and I’m His instrument!”
The only thing he could hear for a few seconds was the sound of the air conditioner before a server from a different group agreed with a sigh. All of them must’ve shared the same thoughts. It was too easy to convince everyone to play a game of Tug-o-War after Jaejoong came back from his shared room holding a colored rope.
“You planned this, didn’t you?”
Jaejoong divided everyone into two groups. Yunho scratched his head while watching the younger draw a line on the ground using a chalk.
“Not really, but I used to be a scout so I’m prepared. Who attends a retreat without playing Tug-o-War?”
Jaejoong tossed the chalk aside before joining the opposite team, grinning. Someone counted before a signal was heard for the start of the game. He thought it would be easy because of the elders but Jaejoong was competitive, coaching his teammates to pull harder and harder until Yunho, distracted Yunho from the other team stepped past the line and Jaejoong howled in victory, jumping around and hugging his team.
They agreed to a game of three and so everyone got in place once again for the second round. The team got too confident from their first win that Jaejoong forgot that he was with the oldies and they weren’t as energetic as him, that with just a few pulls, it was Yunho’s turn to give him a smug look while Jaejoong had his face planted on the ground.
“That was mean!”
“Be a sport, you wanted to play this game.”
Jaejoong asked everyone to stand behind him, and grip the rope as hard as they could. He really wanted to wipe that look off of Yunho’s face and he wasn’t disappointed. He might or might not have played a dirty trick (read: telling Yunho that his fly was open, causing the priest to be alarmed and look down, losing his concentration) and their team won again, getting the prize he suggested before the game started.
It was all in good intention; the tension was lifted off their shoulders. Break time was extended – from the end of the game until the actual snack time.
He felt a hand cup the side of his face and a thumb caress his skin.
“You’re not hurt, are you?”
Jaejoong quickly took a step back and chuckled, trying not to focus on the burning feeling of Yunho’s hand on his cheek.
“Nah, it will take more than a plank for me to break.”
“Do you want to play another game?”
Jaejoong looked around. “Right away?”
“Just the two of us,” Yunho gently pulled him to the side to sit on Monobloc chairs. “We used to play this in the seminary, to easily get along with the others. Staring game.”
Jaejoong raised a brow. “You get closer to people by staring them in the eye?”
“It’s a different staring game – you can blink, but we’re going to do this while complimenting each other. You shouldn’t look anywhere else or deny the other’s words if you feel shy, you should get over that flaw.”
Staring at Yunho while telling the other he was the man of his dreams – in more meanings than one, wasn’t a good idea.
“Are you in?”
“Alright, I’ll start. You’re nice.”
“This is easy. Thanks. You’re cool, I guess.”
“Just a guess? But thanks. I like your shirt.”
“That’s so lame, but thanks – for everything you will say after this. You’re honestly very approachable, even though I never interacted much with you before. Chanyeol likes you, and I trust his guts.”
Yunho laughed. “He’s a funny boy.”
“You’re supposed to compliment me, not him!”
“Well, you’re not funny – but you’re cute.”
Jaejoong forgot about the rule and covered his face with both hands. “Don’t say that!”
“Hey, hey. You can’t hide. Why can’t I? It’s a compliment. Next.”
He peeked through the gaps between his fingers and looked at the other’s smile, and Jaejoong’s heart made a few somersaults.
“Um, y-you’re handsome…just to be even with you – and you’re actually so nice, and maybe it’s okay for me to be just as close to you like how Chanyeol is.”
Yunho’s smile faltered and before Jaejoong could apologize for something wrong he said, his hands were pulled down and held into a pair of larger ones. He should look away now, but the other’s gaze froze him up. Such look could see through him.
“What stops you?”
“I’m just scared.”
“I have reasons.”
“If those reasons didn’t exist, would you let me in there?”
There was a gentle poke on his chest and Jaejoong snorted. “Maybe.”
It’s their last day in the retreat center and if Jaejoong thought it would be boring, then he was greatly mistaken. He had gotten a lot closer to the church members, even with those who came from another town. The farewell mass that night was officiated by Yunho himself with Jaejoong serving. When it was over, he stayed with their parish priest while the other chatted shortly with his fellow clerics.
“Was it a good decision to stay in your church? Father Jorge leaving was so sudden, and I heard that you had another parish in mind.”
Jaejoong fixed the cloth on the table, missing the fond look in Yunho’s eyes.
“Staying was not my intention, but I found a reason to.”
“Are you ready to leave?”
Jaejoong zipped the bag close and hummed. “Yes, but I learned a lot.”
“I’m glad you did. I told you so, you will benefit from this.”
He didn’t want to give Yunho the satisfaction but the other was right, so he let a smile form on his lips, matching the priest’s.
“What did you learn?”
He knew being gay was something he couldn’t control – it was the calling Yunho talked about, but there were things he could control, like thirsting on the priest and he wasn’t doing anything to keep it to himself. Besides, the looks he was giving the other were returned, if he wasn’t mistaken. He never bothered to hide his intentions ever since they were left alone in this room on the first day – Jaejoong knew Yunho saw how he looked at him when he came out of the shower. Now, Jaejoong wasn’t sure if Yunho knew the former felt all of those gazes when he thought Jaejoong was unaware.
The stole fell on the floor and soon the alb was off as well. Jaejoong eyed the other’s chest and Yunho really had to stop from wearing fitted clothes, they didn’t really help quench Jaejoong’s thirst – it actually escalated.
Jaejoong was staring and he knew Yunho knew why if the older man popping off the buttons of his dress shirt slowly, teasingly, was anything but pure.
“I learned that I should follow whatever my heart tells me to do, and that I shouldn’t think of what everyone thinks of it, as long as I know I mean no harm, because in the end, God will understand.”
He didn’t know when he stood from his bed and pressed against Yunho, but Jaejoong could feel the heat radiating off of the other’s body. A sigh escaped his lips when Yunho wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Do you think He’s going to forgive us?”
“I don’t know, but please. Let me have this tonight. Then we can forget whatever happens once we’re back.”
It would be a lie if Jaejoong said the grunt Yunho let out was nothing sexy. Those lips tasted as good as they looked as Jaejoong kissed the other with much fervor. Settling in bed was a little difficult – Yunho’s head kept hitting the metals supporting the top bunk while they tried to get out of their clothes.
All of those was forgotten the second their bare skin touched, and Jaejoong bit down on Yunho’s lip before sucking on it.
“God, why do you keep biting me?”
Jaejoong licked the assaulted lip and let out a chuckle that turned into breathy moans as Yunho mapped his chest with sucks and kisses. “That’s what you said in my dream.”
“You dreamt of this?”
“Quite a lot of times – once in my sleep, a hundred times when we’re talking.”
“Watch your words, daddy.”
The kisses on his chest stopped. For a second, Jaejoong thought he did something wrong but Yunho’s eyes said otherwise and before he could say another word, the older man rolled his hips down, sending a delicious rush of pleasure straight to his cock.
“Is that what you will call me in bed? Synonymous to Father, isn’t it.”
Yunho continued the torture, ignoring Jaejoong’s pleas.
“Do you want to go all the way?”
Jaejoong whined and eyed the door, shaking his head. “I don’t want to get caught. Just…just do something.”
Yunho wrapped his hand around both of their cocks, stroking while thrusting his hips in a languid pace. Jaejoong tried his best to keep his hips down, and he also had a good grip on their cocks for more friction. Their pants and moans filled the room; Jaejoong could feel the thin layer of sweat on his skin and normally he would be disgusted, but at the moment all he cared about was Yunho and only Yunho, and the look the other had while staring down at him.
“Does it feel good, Jaejoong?”
Yunho thumbed Jaejoong’s slit and the latter’s back arched off the bed, as a series of whimpers fell past kiss-swollen lips.
“S-so good, please...”
A soft pair of lips covered his own once again, trying to kiss the life out of him. Jaejoong grabbed Yunho closer and finally moved his hips, fucking into their hands and they would be damned if someone heard them for the moan that ripped out of Jaejoong’s throat was nothing but loud and shameless as Yunho’s free hand maneuvered in between them to rub against his puckered hole, a finger teasingly probing against the tight entrance.
“I’m going to come, Yunho.”
“Then do it, baby. Come for me.”
Jaejoong’s cock twitched at the endearment and released thick strings of cum, his body convulsing underneath Yunho’s. The sight was too much for the older and a few strokes sent Yunho over the edge, cock painting Jaejoong’s stomach with white ㅡ he let himself fall on top of the other, not minding the mess he made on the younger’s skin.
“Get off, you’re heavy!”
Yunho rolled to the side and gathered Jaejoong in his arms, letting the younger bury his face on his chest.
“I’m dirty again.”
“Let’s clean up later, I’m spent.”
Yunho closed his eyes and took the time to calm his breathing, while Jaejoong admired his features, gently running his fingers over Yunho’s face.
“Are we going to shower together?”
“Whatever you want, Jaejoong.”
Forgetting that night was as easy as drinking a glass of chili juice. Yunho looked like nothing ever happened, that they never went to the retreat, while it was all that Jaejoong could think of. The priest had become busier after the trip, visiting towns for missionary works. It should help Jaejoong take his mind off of things, but it only worsened – missing Yunho wasn’t a part of the plan.
Jaejoong tugged the strap of his bag and headed straight to the church after a class presentation. It’d been a long time since he last confessed – and he may not be regretful of who he was, but He’s the only one who would listen to him.
The kneeling cushion was soft against his knees. Jaejoong pulled out a piece of paper, a list of the things he must say. The door to the other side opened as the priest entered.
“Forgive me, Father for I have sinned; it’s been months since my last confession. I accuse myself for the following sins…”
He unfolded the paper and started reading them.
“I have disappointed my parents for turning into someone they didn’t expect. My heart beats not for a woman, but for a man, and that man belongs here, in the house of the Almighty. He was once perfect until I tainted him, until I made him turn his back against his creed for a night of passion. I forced myself to serve God, just to make my parents believe I wanted to change, but instead of a metanoia, I accepted the temptation and in turn, tempted him. I ask for forgiveness not because of my own doing, but for the sins he committed because of me. He doesn’t deserve the punishment that awaits him. My soul is ready to burn, but if I could do one good thing before I die, I would like to save him.”
“I would have you know he never asked for forgiveness for that one night.”
The window that separated them remained close, as per Jaejoong’s request, but even though he couldn’t see the other side, Yunho’s voice had instilled itself in Jaejoong’s mind, never meant to be forgotten.
“I would also have you know that he was never perfect, and he shares the same kind of heart that you do. God was his priority, but in the middle of it he had changed. Wearing a white robe was supposed to hide the truth, but you cannot run from who you are. Every night he prays, to thank Him for the blessings, but never to apologize for being the way he is. He made all of us equal, so what is there to be sorry for?”
Jaejoong wanted to open the window and see Yunho. He had missed him a lot. He never got the chance to talk to the other properly when they came back from the trip, he never got the chance to explain that he was more than just a physical need, that he might have fallen on the day he watched the priest gather children in his arms to give them a kiss on the forehead and tell them they were the best gift of life.
“God condemned homosexuality, Father. I may be a sinner, but I have read all about it, and I know all about it. Am I really going to be easily forgiven?”
“If you knew all about it, you would know that He never condemned you – us. Did He ever call out the men of Sodom for wanting to have an intercourse with Lot? He condemned them for gang rape. Leviticus said to lie with a man as with a woman is an abomination, and they shall be put to death. It was never about same sex romance, it was about adultery, promiscuity and idol worship among others. The bible has changed over time, and was never interpreted deeply. The people took it the way it was worded, and the meanings were never dug up.
Lust is a deadly sin, and intercourse without love is the true abomination.”
Before he could respond, the window opened and Yunho reached out to pull him in, sealing his lips with a gentle kiss.
“More so, He taught us to respect and love one another above all.”
The kiss was sweet, and probably a little salty from Jaejoong’s tears.
There was a knock on the door before Jaejoong opened it to welcome his parents. A frown etched itself on his face as they entered the office and greeted the priest.
“I hope we aren’t bothering you – were you in the middle of something important?”
Jaejoong stood beside Yunho and fisted the fabric of his alb.
“Ah, we were just discussing the arrangement for the first mass of Lent. What can I do for you, Mr. and Mrs. Oh?”
His father glanced at him while his mother tried to keep a forced smile. “We just want to ask about our son – if he ever did something, a mistake perhaps? We signed him up as an altar server to make him repent, anyway.”
Yunho ignored the visible wince Jaejoong made to lean forward and matched the smile of Jaejoong’s mother, knowing the parents’ intentions.
“About that, Jaejoong has been very hardworking and is committed to the church, despite the demands of his studies. I can see the fruits of his practice with the servers. For his mistakes, I have nothing to judge for he never did anything wrong in my eyes, not even once.”
“That’s good to hear.”
The priest then put his attention on the server who’d been looking down as if his feet were the most interesting things in the world.
“Moreover, Jaejoong had done his confession this week. I’m sure God is proud of him. He is. Right, Jaejoong?”
Yunho’s eyes looked darker than usual for a moment before they turned warm when Jaejoong nodded and appeased his parents’ worries.
“If that is all, I’m afraid I’d have to go and talk to the ministers. Jaejoong will be with me.”
Not a minute later and they were already gone, much to the server’s delight before he was grabbed and made to get on his knees in between Yunho’s legs. Yunho stared down on Jaejoong’s face which was traced with nothing but eagerness and submission. Jaejoong’s hands immediately found their way on the inside of the older’s thighs, caressing.
“Honestly, I’ll get down on my knees just for you.”
The smirk on Yunho’s face was wiped off in a second when an excited mouth latched onto the growing tent in his pants, and his erection only hardened from the heat of Jaejoong’s breath.
“Can you please just put that mouth to good use?”
He didn’t need to be told twice before Yunho’s pants pooled around his ankles and a pair of pink lips circled themselves around the glistening crown of his cock. Jaejoong was good, and Yunho had half a mind to ask where the younger learned to do it but the image of Jaejoong pleasuring another man sickened him to the stomach, and his hips automatically bucked to bury himself in Jaejoong’s mouth.
The heat disappeared and kisses were placed up and down his length, while fingers wrapped around the base to grip.
“I thought we would meet the ministers?”
Yunho groaned and let his head roll back, his eyes closed to focus on the sensation Jaejoong willingly offered.
“You honestly believed that – I just wanted them out of the way.”
Jaejoong giggled and took the cock back in his mouth, head now bobbing in a pace that made Yunho grunt and pull at Jaejoong’s jet black hair. Deep groans of more, you’re doing so well, so good for me bounced against the four walls of the office that boosted Jaejoong’s ego – he could feel his heart swell at the sight of his man feeling good because of him and it only encouraged him to do better – to suck harder, lick, bite, anything to make Yunho lose his mind.
“Stop, I’m close...”
Jaejoong didn’t hear a thing, or perhaps he just let the words exit his ears as he flattened his tongue against a prominent vein before dragging it up to swirl around the angry red tip and dip in the slit. He almost choked when Yunho thrusted and his throat burned, and when he swallowed around the cock, Jaejoong moaned shamelessly while a gush of cum filled him up.
“I told...I told you to stop.”
Jaejoong had his cheek pressed against Yunho’s thigh before looking up to meet the other’s hooded gaze.
“It’s okay, I wanted to do it.”
Slightly panting, Yunho fixed himself and wiped the excess white on the corner of Jaejoong’s mouth, and kissed the younger’s breath away.
“You’re amazing, I don’t deserve you.”
“We don’t deserve each other, then.”
Maybe they really don’t, and there would come a time that they would have to end whatever they have, but Jaejoong was thankful for the short time. It would be the only memory he would tattoo on his mind.
Five years later.
“Yes, I ordered a bouquet last week – I know you’re busy, that’s why I ordered in advance! You should’ve told me that you can’t deliver it.”
Jaejoong rushed to the living room while fixing his necktie, his phone pressed between his shoulder and ear. His alarm woke him up in the most ungodly hour on a Saturday, forgetting to snooze it the night before.
If the heavens were really punishing him, then they were doing a good job. The firm he was working at demanded him to take the job of a co-worker who filed a sudden leave because of his wife currently on labor. Then, as if it wasn’t bad enough, the flower shop called to inform him that they wouldn’t be able to deliver the bouquet of sunflowers he ordered for his girlfriend’s birthday due to an influx of demand and lack of manpower.
“I’ll drop by and pick it up. I guess the delivery fee is cancelled? Good. I’ll be there in ten.”
She looked ethereal and the smile on her face was the only form of thanks Jaejoong needed.
“You didn’t have to do this; I know you’re on a budget for the wedding. I love it, though. I love it so much,” The kiss on his cheek was gentle, and Jaejoong hoped he could finally allow himself to give one back.
“I love you.”
He met her a year ago, during his post-graduation party. She was a friend of a classmate and they hit it off pretty quick. His mother loved her and his father was delighted. Finally, they were proud to call him their son.
They got engaged just two months into their relationship. In that moment, when she said yes and cried in his arms, Jaejoong thought it was the best decision he had ever made. He was broken prior to their meeting, and it was easy for her to put him back together. She was jolly, she was gentle. She was innocent, she was all they could ask for.
She was the complete opposite of him.
Yunho easily let him go when Jaejoong broke the news that his family would transfer to the city because his father was designated to another branch. He said Jaejoong deserved more; Jaejoong would be happier out of his arms. Jaejoong begged for the other to stop him, but Yunho turned his back and that was the last thing Jaejoong saw before things ended between them.
He swore to himself that he would never go back to that town but his family wanted to have the wedding there so their relatives could come. Jaejoong’s nerves were on rollercoaster when he parked his car in front of the church, but he convinced himself that it would be impossible to see Yunho again. He remembered that Yunho wanted to be in a different parish and when Jaejoong left, there was no reason for him to stay.
An old man approached him when he looked like he would sprint out of the holy place. Jaejoong didn’t know if he should thank him or curse himself for not running away faster.
“Are you alright, young man?”
“Err, yes. Where’s the priest? I would like to talk to him since I’ll be getting married in three weeks’ time – I believe my bride had passed the requirements already.”
The old man stared for a few seconds before his whole face lit up, and recognition dawned on him.
“Jaejoong! So it’s you! Oh Lord, Father Yunho would be ecstatic! All of the old servers were gone, only Chanyeol visited once in a while.”
He knew he shouldn’t have come back. What were the odds? He didn’t think the priest would stay in their parish for a long time.
“Father… Yunho? He’s still here?”
“Fortunately. He was offered to be the parish priest of another town, the one where he usually did extra missionary work – but he declined. He said this place is special to him, and you bet the parishioners were overjoyed to hear that! Come, he’s in the office.”
“Wait – actually I have something to do. Maybe I should come back some other day – “
He was ready to bite the minister's hand off when a voice he dearly missed spoke and made his heart skip two beats faster.
“You’re already here. Why don’t we talk about your wedding, Jaejoong?”
The groom-to-be almost collapsed at the sight of the handsome man he tried the hardest to forget.
Five years had passed but Yunho looked the same, just like when Jaejoong first saw him. The only difference was that he had shorter hair and it made him look more mature.
Well, he’s 30.
“Who would’ve thought that we would meet again like this? You look better than the last time I saw you. Congratulations in advance, Jaejoong. You must be elated.”
Was Yunho doing it on purpose? Was he purposely acting like Jaejoong was a mere server and not someone who had a mouthful of his coㅡ
Would he prefer Yunho say that he missed him, that he was happy to see Jaejoong again? That would contradict how he turned his back against the younger during his most vulnerable state.
“I’m good. I’m here to make sure the priest would be available on my wedding day. I want it to be perfect.”
“I already cleared my schedule for that.”
“Can’t I request for another priest to officiate the wedding?”
Yunho drummed his fingers against the desk and hummed, eyes never leaving Jaejoong’s. “I’m the only one free that day. We can ask Father Jun, but he would be in the middle of an overseas missionary work two days from now, and it will last for a month.”
“Maybe I can convince them to change churches.”
“Why? What’s wrong with this church, Jaejoong? We just renovated it, thanks to the people’s donations. Is it not grand enough?”
He could feel his nose flaring. Yunho really was provoking him.
“Why would I present my bride to the man who had me in his bed?”
The smirk that formed on the priest’s lips almost made Jaejoong forget about moralsㅡnot like he had any left. How bad would it be if he landed a punch or two on that ridiculously handsome face?
“So you haven’t forgotten about me.”
“You didn’t want me, Yunho. The times I would accidentally remember you left a bitter taste on my tongue – every single time.”
“We both know I did the right thing. Did you honestly think we would have a happy ever after, Jaejoong? You thought I would hold you back and keep loving you, right in front of the eyes of God?”
Yunho jerked back when the younger slammed his palms on the desk and got in his personal space. The palpable anger in Jaejoong’s eyes mixed with hurt softened up his stone cold heart.
“YOU were the one who told me WE wouldn’t be condemned. YOU told me He loved us no matter what. I met people who thought the same, Father Yunho. You were right, but you are a hypocrite.”
Yunho suddenly had his hand on the back of Jaejoong’s neck, keeping him in place.
“Get it through your thick skull that I only wanted the best for you, Jaejoong. I loved you, and I still love you – but what would that give us? Do you really think we could be together? Be happy you had another change of heart, because if not, then neither of us would be happy. Someone had to be, and it’s you.”
Yunho’s eyes showed his reflection – and it reflected him enough to the point that Jaejoong could see himself crumbling down.
He missed Yunho so bad. Deep inside of him, seeing Yunho one more time was everything he wished and prayed for. Jaejoong realized he never stopped sinning when he asked for his fiancé’s hand in marriage – because she was a cover up for the feelings he had always kept.
Yunho was, and would always be what his heart longed for.
“You were my happiness, Yunho. Stop deciding what’s good for me. You were good for me.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I’m fucking 24. I’m not the 19 year-old server anymore.”
“Watch your words, Jaeㅡ”
What was Yunho going to say? Perhaps, it was forgotten. Jaejoong’s lips were the same – soft and eager. And who was he to deny the other, when it was Jaejoong who readily offered himself yet again, and Yunho was nothing but a human being despite the divinity, meant to err, meant to break.
“Stay with me.”
Yunho had their foreheads pressed against each other while he tried to catch his breath. Jaejoong had obviously gotten better at kissing.
Did he practice with her?
“And then we can forget about this tomorrow.”
“Don’t leave marks. Please.”
Jaejoong whined as Yunho continued to thrust his hips, to pound into him. They’d been going at it for the past twenty minutes, and Jaejoong cursed Yunho’s stamina for keeping him wanting more and more.
He fisted the sheets and angled his hips so Yunho could fuck him deeper, and when he felt another jab on his spot, Jaejoong swore he could see stars.
Yunho held the younger closer to his chest while he whispered sweet nothings, and Jaejoong hoped it could last forever.
“I can’t hold it in longer. Jae, baby.”
Arms wrapped themselves around Yunho and Jaejoong purposely clenched around the thick cock sliding in and out of him before Yunho’s hips stuttered and stilled, filling his tight heat to the brim.
Yunho locked gazes with Jaejoong as he helped the younger to reach orgasm, hand pumping the neglected cock feverishly, only slowing down when it started to soften and once again, Jaejoong found himself enveloped in sturdy arms.
“How did you know you liked men?”
Yunho raised a brow. “Is that the right question to ask after sex?”
“Just answer me.”
“Alright, alright. While I was just on the way to becoming a priest, I met someone in the seminary. He was wonderful and I realized I’m capable of getting attracted to men as well.”
“Did he like you?”
“He hated homosexuals – it’s what they taught us, anyway. I never confessed.”
The curtains danced with the wind and Jaejoong lightly shuddered from the cold breeze. Minutes passed, and when he started thinking Yunho was asleep, the other broke the quiet of the night.
“Is this our goodbye?”
It was dark in the room and although Jaejoong couldn’t see the other clearly, he knew Yunho’s eyes held all the love in the world – just for him.
“At least, we can properly say goodbye to each other.”
“I love you.”
Jaejoong closed his eyes before a batch of tears could cascade down his cheeks and reached up to brush Yunho’s lips with his own. “Thank you. For everything.”
The wedding bells aided the bridesmaids and groomsmen’s entrance. Pachelbel’s Canon in D notes began to fill the venue, played beautifully by skilled violinists as she walked down the aisle, dressed in the most beautiful white gown. Colette Komm’s signature ivory silk-taffeta boned corset and princess silk-mikado knife-pleated ball-gown skirt with bustle and train was her best choice to enhance her natural beauty, making her look magical. Jaejoong smiled at the sight as she tried to stop herself from crying under the veil.
“Don’t cry, you’ll ruin your makeup.”
She chuckled and held his hand tight as they faced the altar.
Yunho’s smile didn’t reach his eyes but it would do, no one would notice.
“Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Kim Jaejoong and Lee Joohyun in marriage. Jaejoong and Joohyun come to give themselves to one another in this holy covenant.”
Jaejoong dared to meet Yunho’s eyes.
“I ask you now, in the presence of the Lord and these people, to declare your intention to enter union with one another through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with himself as acknowledged in your baptism.”
His heartbeat seemed to run a new mile every second. Jaejoong looked at Joohyun as she waited for the priest to ask her the question. Her smile was so bright and her eyes sparkled.
“Jaejoong, will you have Joohyun to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?”
Jaejoong could feel his throat constrict and he found it hard to breathe. He knew Joohyun was looking at him, waiting for him to say I will, I will love her for as long as I can but no matter how hard he tried to push the words out, his mouth wouldn’t speak.
The crowd started to murmur and Joohyun squeezed his hand as her smile began to falter.
A tear managed to escape his eye as he finally faced her and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t. Joohyun, I can’t.”
“You’re…you’re joking, right? Jaejoong, this is not the time toㅡ”
“I’m gay. I like men. You notice that I never once kissed you, right? And for what reason? I’m so sorry…”
He saw how her shoulders sagged in defeat as the flowers fell on the floor. The crowd’s voices grew louder; they asked what happened, and mostly, they expressed disgust.
Jaejoong stepped down and his father blocked his path.
“Get back there and marry her, Jaejoong!”
“No! I’m done trying to please you, I’m done hiding! Stop making my life miserable!”
Jaejoong didn’t even look back as he pushed past everyone and ran, determined not to go through the wedding.
As the younger argued with his father, Yunho could only stare at the bride who wept with her family. She didn’t deserve it, but if Jaejoong thought this was the only way he could finally gather his courage and fight for himself then Yunho would be nothing but a pillar of support.
The stole fell on the floor, followed by his alb. The other members of the church approached him and held his arm, questioning his actions.
“Father, what’s going on?”
Yunho didn’t respond as he cut through the people, ignoring the scandalized stares. When he reached Jaejoong before the other could go past the doors, he made sure everyone saw as he claimed the pair of quivering lips with his own.
“Run away with me, Jaejoong.”
Not a second was wasted as Jaejoong determinedly grabbed Yunho’s hand and left everyone, everything behind.
They both knew God would understand – they were just two men who happened to love the way everyone didn’t expect, and that was the only thing that mattered.
Because love is love, and it knows no gender, no boundaries.